By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – Bay Port volleyball coach Jeremy Weis said in his 27 years of coaching, he’s never seen a better blocking night at the net than he did on Oct. 4.
“Four weeks ago, I said to the girls, ‘We need to work on blocking — we’re not very good at that,’” he said. “We’ve been focusing on that — it was a great display from the team.”
The end result was a 22-25, 25-15, 25-17, 25-11, four-set victory for the Pirates over De Pere in Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) action.
After Bay Port (11-7 overall, 6-0 FRCC) lost the first set, Weis said his team improved its play drastically.
“De Pere served us tough in the first set,” he said. “After that, we adjusted — we found timing, had great blocking and served well.”
De Pere coach PJ Brocker said once Bay Port got going, it was tough to stop.
“They are so good at the net,” he said. “They have a size advantage and know how to use it. They beat us at the net, for sure. We served well early and kept them off pace, but then Bay Port’s serve receive got much more solid.”
The Pirates had a 20-17 lead in the opening set, but the Redbirds scored eight of the last 10 points to grab the momentum.
“I don’t think we were mentally present in the first set,” Bay Port senior outside hitter Izzy Grace said. “We were hitting balls out and not getting firm passes. That was some mental adversity we had to fight through.”
In set two, the Pirates jumped out to a 10-4 lead and cruised from there behind the play of Grace and senior outside hitter Josie Hoffman.
In set three, things were relatively close with De Pere (17-12, 4-2 FRCC) down 15-11, but then Bay Port scored 10 of the last 14 points.
In the fourth set, the Pirates were never threatened after bolting out to a 10-2 advantage.
“Izzy and Josie each had solid nights,” Weis said. “At the end of the match, I said, ‘Would I give the game ball to Josie for her offensive play, or would I give it to Izzy?’ That’s the most confident, determined and explosive I’ve seen (Izzy) all year. She was calm passing, and her jumping ability was off the charts. That’s the best I’ve seen her.”
Grace said she came into the match with an open mind.
“I was ready to kill it out there — that’s been my mindset all season,” she said. “We needed this victory as a stepping stone.”
The night was also special because it was “Pink Night.”
Both teams wore pink uniforms and helped raise money for families touched by cancer.
“In some way or form, everyone has been affected by cancer,” Brocker said. “It’s fun for the girls and program to do something extra. It was our biggest showing to date.”
If both Bay Port and Manitowoc Lincoln managed to win their Oct. 6 games, both teams would go into their Tuesday, Oct. 11, match at Bay Port undefeated in FRCC play, with a conference title on the line.
By Rich Palzewic